Recipe: Coconut Butternut Squash Soup
Butternut squash is a winter staple at The Sylvia Center. In the fall, its arrival to our garden and table is much anticipated. Our favorite ways to prepare it are simmered in soup or chili, roasted and served on tacos or stirred into mac and cheese. But, as we roll into February, the thrill has waned. We have to change it up and get creative, otherwise our minds go straight to dreaming of tender spring vegetables. This is a rabbit hole from which it is difficult to resurface, so to keep us on track, we tried this coconut butternut squash soup. Yes, it’s still a soup, but puréed and mixed with flavors we don’t immediately reach for at the beginning of the season. It dug us right out of our squash slump and restored our faith in winter vegetables.
To save time, we recommend roasting the squash ahead of time. It can be stored in the fridge for a few days before cooking. In our opinion, the sautéed kale and onion is an essential topping. It adds contrast in texture, flavor and appearance to the soup. The next time we make it, we’ll add some roasted cashews as another garnish.
Coconut Butternut Squash Soup
(Adapted from New York Times Cooking)
1 large butternut squash (about 1-1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil or other vegetable oil
1 large yellow or sweet white onion, chopped
1 cup raw cashews
1 medium apple, any variety, peeled and diced
2 cups prepared vegetable broth, or 2 cups water with 1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons curry powder
2 teaspoons grated fresh or jarred ginger, or more, to taste
2 cloves of garlic, minced
Pinch of ground nutmeg or allspice
(1) 14-ounce can light coconut milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 medium red onions, quartered and thinly sliced
1 good-size bunch kale (about 10–12 ounces)
1. To bake the squash, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut in half and place halves, cut side up, in a foil-lined, shallow baking dish and cover tightly with more foil. Bake for 30 to 50 minutes, until you can easily pierce the flesh with a knife. Scoop out and set aside.
2. Heat about half the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium-low heat until golden, about 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Add the cashews, apple, squash, broth, garlic and spices. Bring to a steady simmer, then cover and simmer gently until the apples are tender, about 10 minutes.
4. Transfer the solids to a food processor or blender with a slotted spoon, in batches if need be, and process until smoothly pureed, then transfer back to the soup pot. Or better yet, simply insert an immersion blender into the pot and process until smoothly pureed.
5. Stir in the coconut milk and return the soup to a gentle simmer. Cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until well heated through. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Just before serving, heat the remaining oil in a large skillet. Add the red onions and sauté over low heat until golden and soft.
7. Meanwhile, strip the kale leaves off the stems and cut into thin shreds. Stir together with the onions in the skillet, adding just enough water to moisten the surface. Cover and steam over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the kale is bright green and just tender, about 5 minutes.
8. To serve, ladle soup into each bowl, then place a small mound of kale and onion mixture in the center.
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